The Hippie Shakes – Rosemary Branch Theatre, London

Reviewer: Christine Stanton

Writer and Director: Frankie Regalia

It’s the Swinging Sixties – Chickie has five children (not all planned) and a cocaine smuggling husband who’s hellbent on dragging her over to the dark side of the war on drugs along with him. Safe to say, her path in life is far from being a cookie cutter housewife. By combining the true story that Chickie’s life is based on, alongside a set list of live music, you’ll be transported back in time to sunny San Francisco, home of free love and narcotics in abundance.

The concept of gig-theatre is an intriguing one, combining a storyline with a mini-gig works excellently, using the live music not only to set the scene with well-known songs of the time but also using their instruments to emulate additional characters in this one-woman show. Ryan Lester (drums), Callum Harrison (bass) and Paven Rai (guitar) are the on-stage band, bringing this unique concept to life.

Elliott Chase plays her role as Chickie fabulously. Combining the perfect amount of feminist sass and motherly empathy, her presence on stage is captivating. Utilising both her acting abilities and immensely talented vocals, she truly is the well-deserved star of this show. Chase makes the character of Chickie both engaging and inspiring, which, considering some of her choices in life, is quite the feat. She delivers the dark humoured lines with a perfectly deadpan expression, which adds warmth and realness to her character.

Writer and director Frankie Regalia brings the audience to Chickie’s well documented journey, from her escape of travelling around Europe to finally settling back down in California with her children, attempting to turn a blind eye to her husband’s drug empire. Regalia’s script really fleshes out both Chickie’s character and the parts of her husband and children, even though they’re never physically shown. The differing projected setting backdrops are a great addition to the performance, a simple technique to enhance a location, but extremely effective at encouraging audience imagination.

Considering this show is set in the past, this is such a wonderfully fresh take on theatre. By assembling this immensely talented cast, brilliantly written story and fantastic soundtrack, Sweaty Palm Productions have created a gloriously groovy performance that’s definitely worth a watch.

Runs until 13 May 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Gloriously Groovy

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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